The daily commute: Ericsson survey details commuter sentiment and the new normal of work

Historically, people have spent large amounts of time commuting to and from the office. A new report looks at sentiment regarding the daily commute and expectations moving forward.

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Organizations around the globe have adopted remote work policies to enhance public safety due to COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, people were spending large amounts of time commuting to and from work throughout the week. A 2019 OnePoll and Valvoline survey found that Americans dedicate nearly 35 minutes to their daily work commute every day. In 2018, metro area commuters in the US spent nearly two hours commuting each week, according to the Census Bureau. A new report focuses on sentiment regarding past commuter experiences, the prospect of returning to work, and the future of the daily commute.

SEE: COVID-19 workplace policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Improved experiences and mass transit issues

On Wednesday, Ericsson’s ConsumerLab released a report titled Augmenting the daily commute. The study includes insights from 130 million people from 16 metropolitan areas around the globe. Overall, eight-in-10 employees believed they would likely return to their standard commute after coronavirus restrictions are discontinued, although only one-quarter of respondents said they were eager to return to their usual commute.

The report also looks at various factors offering an improved commuter experience including more consistent Internet connectivity, the ability to make reliable phone calls, and more. Interestingly, some respondents were willing to trade certain inconveniences for an enhanced overall commuter experience. In fact, more than one-quarter of commuters said they would extend their commute by 20 minutes if they were able to improve the experience. This increased to 40 percent in Shanghai, Delhi, and Bangkok.

SEE: Big data’s role in COVID-19 (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Gaining more consistent, continual Internet connectivity in a person’s vehicle was a particularly attractive option for respondents with 50% finding this to be “highly interesting.” These people “would even like to take suggestions from their vehicles to change routes in order to avoid call drops or lags along the way.”

Time-efficiency existed as one of the top factors driving commuter decision-making. Nearly half of respondents were not satisfied with their “sources of real-time information,” limiting their ability to plan or modify their daily commute.

Mass transit commuter issues

The majority of respondents who use mass transit said they had adequate space “to focus and use digital devices,” although half noted unstable Internet connectivity during their commute. As detailed in the report, “this limits their ability to create a sense of privacy and personal space through digital engagement.” Comparatively, 85% of mass transit commuters with high-speed Internet connectivity said they had adequate mental space “to focus on their activities during their commute.

The future of commuting

The findings also illustrate expectations regarding daily commuter transportation in the years ahead. Today, about 55% of commuters use a personal vehicle, and respondents expected this number to drop to about one-third within five to 10 years, per the report. About one in eight (13%) said they wanted to own a self-driving vehicle in the years ahead, although 15% said they anticipate they instead will use “autonomous robotaxis and fleets or minibuses.” Additionally, 60% of respondents expect autonomous vehicles to revolutionize their commute in the next decade.

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